TIA vs. Bioterrorism

from the sniff-this dept

Tim writes “The Washington Post has an article, Strategic Tracking of Sniffles, describing a program called, in true Washingtonese, ESSENCE, for Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics. ESSENCE collects automated data from military and civilian health sources, “from daily reports from hospital emergency rooms, drugstore cash registers, physicians, school systems, animal control agencies, veterinarians, emergency medical services, emergency dispatchers, clinical laboratories and weather forecasters, to diagnoses reported to insurance companies by doctors’ offices and precise counts of how many bottles of cough medicine are sold in each Zip code.” A team analyzes this data daily, looking for trends and signs of public health threats, especially bioterrorism.

This seems like a smart use of technology. This is what databases are built for, and what they are good at. As long as the privacy issues are correctly handled, this seems like a great idea.

Cross-posted at The Midnight Blog

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